The Ecstasy of Play

The Ecstasy of Play

Immaculate Conception

Today’s feast brings before our minds our Blessed Mother in the mystery of her immaculate conception. From all eternity, God had planned to become incarnate, and from all eternity He had planned to be born of a woman, a very special woman who would be spotlessly pure, sinless, immaculate, worthy of some an ineffable mystery as to conceive God in the flesh.

Since this very same woman is the one that God gave to us to be our very own mother, each of us, in the spiritual realm, every son and daughter of the Church on this day feels rise within them a movement of tremendous joy. What child indeed is not proud to know of the honour given to its mother? When we consider that she is the one who watches over us, leading us to her Son, that we can go to her every moment of our lives to ask for her assistance, and that will find always and attentive, maternal ear, our joy only increases.

But there is another source of joy on this day, and it is this. Mary is the prototype of the Church, that very Church that St Paul tells us Christ will present to Himself as unspotted : a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish (Eph 5:17). Now, members of the Church we all are who are baptised and profess the true faith. What that means is that, in eternity, we too will be seen by God as his immaculate Spouse, for the very simple, but deeply consoling fact that we are part of the Church, His mystical body, his bride.

As we pursue our efforts in this mortal existence, battling sin in our lives and ceaselessly striving to overcome it, what an immense consolation to know, with the certainty of faith, that those efforts will be crowned with success one day, perhaps very soon, when, in the glory of Heaven, we will see ourselves and those we love as members of the Immaculate Bride of Christ.

Our Mother Mary, like any mother, wants to share with us her privilege, and even though the full realisation of that must wait for eternity, already here below, she covers with her immaculate mantle all those who come to her, who place themselves under her protection, who trust in her maternal love and compassion.

When we come to understand these things, when we come to love spending time each day with our mother, then it is that we begin to understand those words of the book of Proverbs which we read in today’s epistle: “I was with Him,  and was delighted every day, playing before Him at all times, playing in the world”.

Play is very much a part of the spiritual life, just as it is part of the ecstasy of childhood. Let us not lose that capacity to delight in being before God, of knowing that He casts upon us the gaze of a loving Father as we pursue our daily tasks.

Like children at play, let us not worry about our appearance, or about the future, or about anything at all. Above all, let us not have too serious an opinion of ourselves. Let us learn how to play before God our Father and Mary our Immaculate Mother, for their delight is to watch over us with love and take us to be with them forever in Heaven.